A Day in the Nattai Valley.

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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby puredingo » Fri 13 Jun, 2014 9:55 pm

Agent K. In the not to distant future you will be approached by a man in a black suite and bowler hat, he will sit beside you briefly before leaving. Where he sat will be a alligator skin brief case, take that case to the phone box directly across the road, open the case, inside will be a phone number, dial the number and you will receive all the relevant information. Move swiftly away from the booth...it will soon destruct.
Purple monkey dishwasher.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby kanangra » Sat 14 Jun, 2014 10:49 am

Roger that Pure dingo.

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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby gandolph » Wed 18 Jun, 2014 3:03 pm

michael_p wrote:
GPSGuided wrote:A Q: Is there a way to come down from Ahearn's Lookout to the Nattai River level without going all the back to the trailhead? NP's site map seemed to suggest that there's a way down from just a little to the north-west of the lookout. Anyone can confirm this?

Firstly, Ahearn Lookout from the Nattai River:
DSC08148.jpg

There is no way to get down directly from the lookout. For about the last 2km of the walk out to Ahearn it is all high cliffs. There is a route down on the south side called the Slot Way. It runs down to the river via the Rocky Waterholes Creek valley. I have a waypoint for it somewhere, give me some time and I'll see if I can find it.

On a walk out to Ahearn several years ago one of our party spotted some cairns that led off towards the Starlights track side. (Edit: the cairns were a long way back from the lookout) We didn't have time to see where they went on that trip so on my next trip out there we tried to follow them. The cairns led to a break in the cliffs not far off the Ahearn track. We scrambled down to the next level. After a bit of stuffing around we found a trail of yellow electrical tape that took us to a spot that could be scrambled down which gets you below the cliff line and it appeared possible to scrub bash to the Starlights track. Unfortunately we did not go down this way as I was not confident that some of our party would be able to do the scramble. Maybe one day I'll organise another attempt to see if it is possible to get down to Starlights via this route.

I read somewhere of people coming a long way back along Ahearn to then scramble down to Starlights. Can't remember where I read this.

Here are some GPS waypoints for the Ahearn track:
Parking - S34 17.830 E150 25.729.
At the national park information sign there should be a walkers book, you should put your name into the book.
Walk through the gate and continue along Nattai Rd (11E fire trail).
Turn left at the sign for Starlight’s Trail.
Turn left onto Rocky Waterholes Ck Trail – S34 18.225 E150 24.747. There is no sign for this trail but a clear track branches off to the left (south). The right hand branch is the continuation of the Starlight’s Trail.
Turn right onto the Ahearn Lookout Trail at – S34 18.296 E150 24.717. Track heads around Point Hill. Great views from the western side of Point Hill. Good morning tea location. In one spot you can see all the way from Mt Jellore to Yerranderie Peak.
Great lookout just off the main trail here – S34 17.919 E150 23.246
The track will lead you to a spot that has great views across the valley to Russells Needle, Mt Jellore and beyond. A short walk to the north of the end of the trail is Ahearn Lookout proper, which gives great views along the Nattai River valley to the NW including Emmetts Flat.
When you get back make sure you note in the walkers book that you have returned.

Hope this is of some help.
Michael.


So you stumbled upon my route linking Starlights and Ahearns. It has been there since 2004.
It would probably be best going up from Starlights on your first occasion. Here's how....
After the initial zig zag climb out of the valley up to foot of the point, the track starts to undulate slowly uphill then levels.Keep checking the cliff line above on your right. When it is no longer visible start looking for a large head high rock right against the track on the right. On top of this is a large boulder. At this stage you should be in a grove of Casurarinas and directly above the mostly dry waterfall in the creek below.
Start scrambling up the steep slope on the left of the rock and you will soon pick up small rock cairns. There is one tricky sloping rock which some people may need a tape assist. Keep going.
You can now link the 2 tracks and create a more interesting itinerary. The link route is the first break at the end of the northern cliff line. Sure it is along way back from Ahearns but a short way along the track there is a marvelous view down the valley which should satisfy a lot of people without going all the way out to the lookout.

The track to Ahearns was constructed by the manager of Wattle Ridge. It was to provide a pleasant horse ride and picnic for their guests. The billy cans and griller etc at the lookout belong to Wattle Ridge.He used a blade on the front of a tractor which required very little tree removal. Horse riding is actually illegal in a Wilderness such as the Nattai. He was not aware of that. It was quite a scrub bash before the track.
I once abseiled down from the point over two easy pitches followed by a lot of scrambling.

Wattle Ridge also created an illegal horse riding track to the north of their property to link with the old logging track going down Martins Creek. Thus making a pleasant round trip. Robert Sloss refers to it in his guide book as the Martins Creek Circuit {book no 5 page 20}.

Best of luck and good walking.
John M
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Wed 18 Jun, 2014 5:17 pm

So you are responsible for that route. Well done on finding a way through the cliff lines.

Yes, it would probably be easier from below. After heading off from the Ahearn track and dropping below the first cliff line I couldn't see any cairns so I set off exploring towards the east. Whilst scrambling around the cliffs to the east I noticed a distinct wind cave. On a subsequent trip down Starlights I was able to identify this cave from Starlights track along that casuarina forest section you mentioned. Reading your instructions has confirmed for me that I was in the right spot on Starlights. All I have to do now is get myself into gear and have a go at following your route.

The first time I walked out to Ahearn was in 2007. There were bobcat tyre marks along the track (they didn't look that old either) and horse hoof prints. There is a billy can stuck in the rocks out at Ahearn, I wonder if it was left there by the Wattle Ridge people. You wouldn't happen to know who Ahearn was?

Cheers,
Michael
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby gandolph » Sun 22 Jun, 2014 1:16 pm

Sorry Michael. I have not found a clue to his identity.

Good walking
John
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 25 Jun, 2014 3:41 pm

Just purchased and downloaded an e-topo PDF map from LPI. Assuming this contains the latest dataset from SIX, I was annoyed by the wrong labelling of the Starlight Trail in this latest edition. Some will be badly misled. Terrible!

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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Wed 25 Jun, 2014 3:58 pm

That's just appalling.

Makes me sad and angry at the same time.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby kanangra » Wed 25 Jun, 2014 5:01 pm

Crumbs. That is a real blooper. :shock:

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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 25 Jun, 2014 5:03 pm

I am going to contact LPI to try to get the error corrected. Strange how they've removed the correct Starlights trail from their current paper edition and then added Ahearn Lookout Trail, and then mislabelled it. In reference to this and a number of other LPI topo map errors and removal of tracks I've seen, I just wonder who are in charge of these editorial changes? Do they check with NPWS or any of the bushwalking organizations? Without or having the wrong trails, the value to the average bushwalkers would be significantly diminished. Not a good sign.

Just checked online's SIX Map and the area has no walking tracks marked. Road ends at the parking lot at the entrance to the park.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby rachel_g » Sun 11 Sep, 2016 6:34 pm

gandolph wrote:So you stumbled upon my route linking Starlights and Ahearns. It has been there since 2004.
It would probably be best going up from Starlights on your first occasion. Here's how....
After the initial zig zag climb out of the valley up to foot of the point, the track starts to undulate slowly uphill then levels.Keep checking the cliff line above on your right. When it is no longer visible start looking for a large head high rock right against the track on the right. On top of this is a large boulder. At this stage you should be in a grove of Casurarinas and directly above the mostly dry waterfall in the creek below.
Start scrambling up the steep slope on the left of the rock and you will soon pick up small rock cairns. There is one tricky sloping rock which some people may need a tape assist. Keep going.
You can now link the 2 tracks and create a more interesting itinerary. The link route is the first break at the end of the northern cliff line. Sure it is along way back from Ahearns but a short way along the track there is a marvelous view down the valley which should satisfy a lot of people without going all the way out to the lookout.

Best of luck and good walking.
John M


Thanks Gandolph - I led an SBW group up your pass as described above on Saturday - great way to do a loop down to Emmett's Flat then up to Ahearn Lookout without too much backtracking.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby tom_brennan » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 6:30 pm

The route we followed between Starlights and Ahearns is roughly shown below (yellow highlight section). It's mostly moderately steep, loose terrain with one easy scramble. Two minor clifflines to bypass/negotiate. There may be other routes, particularly for the upper cliffline, which was where the scramble was. We followed cairns the whole way.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby gandolph » Mon 10 Oct, 2016 2:32 pm

The route is now affectionately known as Murrays Way by members of the South Coast Bushwalking Club.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby Grabeach » Mon 10 Oct, 2016 4:16 pm

Back in June Michael_P asked who [Leon Dennis] Ahearn was. I recently found this death notice:-

AHEARN, Leon Dennis. — November 8, 1985 at hospital, in Wollongong, of Bookshelf Mountain, Timor Road, Coonabarbran. Aged 30 years.
I also found the same name on the Macarthur (1977) and Hume (1980) federal Electoral Rolls, which are both in the Nattai area.

I'm reasonably certain this person is the Leon Dennis Ahearn of the plaque. A date on the plaque itself would provide further confirmation or otherwise.

There are numerous relatives listed on the death notice, however I don't feel it is appropriate to place those names on a public forum. Please message me if you have a particular interest in contacting them for further information.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby Bushman_Craig » Sun 23 Oct, 2016 5:12 pm

Enjoyed a bit of a Nattai Rd / Troy's Creek / Starlight's Trail circuit this weekend as a swag walk.

I hadn't been down to the river since before I moved back from far northern NSW back in May. WOW it looks like it's been bulldozed. Those floods certainly had some power to them. The Troy's creek track wasn't too bad apart from some recently fallen trees over the track. Down at Emmett's near the old Wiles Cooker, the pigs have been active. They've literally dug trenches right round the area.

We camped further along and encountered a bloke and three or four teenaged boys who were camped near the start of Starlights. Unfortunately the fellow in charge had zero idea of how to put out a raging campfire (the river was like 10m away [shakes head]) and he had let his charges chop down a bunch of live trees down there. Since they left for the carpark before us, we put out their fire for them, but I made a point of recording his contact details from the book at the car park. He'll receive a picture postcard sometime this week showing us putting out his freakin' campfire. I haven't decided whether to email the pics and deets to the NPWS yet, but I'm seriously considering it. People who destroy live vegetation in a national park ruin it for the rest of us and those who couldn't be bothered dousing their campfire are a bit of a pet hate, particularly since the area is bushfire prone.

On a brighter note, we saw a little bit of wildlife over the weekend -

A large male eastern grey kangaroo was encountered on the Nattai Road just before the Troy's turnoff. We stopped to take pics but he wasn't moving. A bit of a Mexican standoff ensued until we took a few steps towards him, then he went around us, back onto the track behind us and hopped away.
A female brush cuckoo was being chased around the campsite by a couple of fairy wrens, so I guess she'd laid some eggs where they weren't wanted.
A nest of an eastern yellow robin was spotted on the switchback section of Starlights - take care if you're in the area. Two chicks, Very cute.
No snakes were seen at all during the walk. In fact the only reptile I saw was a jacky lizard.

The Nattai valley never disappoints. It was a great trip. Most enjoyable.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Mon 14 Nov, 2016 4:11 pm

Grabeach wrote:Back in June Michael_P asked who [Leon Dennis] Ahearn was...

Hi Grabeach,

Thanks for taking the time to do some research on this. I hadn't thought about checking the electoral roles, that was a good idea. I was aware of the death notice and there is also a funeral notice a couple of days after the death notice. I had thought about contacting the relatives but decided against it.

I don't have a good photo of the plaque itself but I have very recently been able to obtain a really good photo from a friend. The plaque has a quote on it (The Conditions of a Solitary Bird) followed by this in memoriam:
In memory of Leon Ahearn
1955 - 1985
The eagle flies alone


Considering the age given on the plaque and the age given in the death notice I am confident that the death notice is the the right one.

The Geographical Names Board extract here: http://www.gnb.nsw.gov.au/place_naming/ ... KWjLZxrXMn . Lists the location as being named after Leon Dennis Ahearn. That's where I got Leon's middle name from, which has been handy. Also, the location name was assigned on the 7th of November 1986.

Your post rekindled my interest and I thought I might try again. Recently I was able to find some information on the Trove website under the NSW Government Gazette section. It makes for interesting reading but I was not able to confirm a link between the Trove information and Leon other than the names match (and it is a distinctive name) so I wont publish it here. If people are interested they can do their own search at the Trove website.

Michael.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Mon 14 Nov, 2016 4:15 pm

Hi Bushman_Craig,

Sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Cheers,
Michael.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby kathylee » Sat 01 Apr, 2017 9:00 pm

My father grew up in the Nattai area and is related to the person Ahearn Lookout is named after. There are some errors in the history you have stated of the Nattai Valley in particular the information that of Emmot
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby puredingo » Sun 02 Apr, 2017 6:55 pm

I'd be interested to hear more Kathylee. Any info would be welcomed, this forum has a very devoted Nattai valley sect.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby tom_brennan » Thu 18 May, 2017 8:28 am

Went into the valley via Ahearn Lookout and Slott Way to Russells Needle, exiting via Rocky Waterholes Creek. Rachel has a trip report at http://grindlay.org/2017/05/russells-needle/

We had a brief discussion about who Ahearn was, so I remembered this thread and did a bit more digging.

Re Ahearn Lookout, and Leon Ahearn - from the following publication: http://pawansw.org/resources/agm2010_Minutes.pdf
Rangers Chris Perry and Leon Ahearn – both died in 1983 (or about – I can check the dates) of Leukaemia. While I was visiting the two bed-ridden rangers shortly before they died, nurses at St Vincent's Hospital told me this particular Leukaemia was commonest amongst those working in agriculture who regularly used certain herbicides, which included some of those used by Rangers Perry and Ahearn. Both these rangers had worked together in the early 1980's weed-spraying from Yarrangobilly Caves and Talbingo/Blowering. I was working there as a Temporary Ranger at the time, before being relocated to Tibooburra. Anecdotal evidence suggests that staff were at times directed to use herbicide cocktails at higher concentrations than on the label, and that PPE was not always on hand or required to be used.


This correlates with Robert Sloss's guide, which says:
Historical Note: Ahearn was a ranger who was passionate about the preservation of the Nattai Wilderness, his ashes are buried at the lookout that bears his name with a plaque nearby.


Obviously the date in the first item above is wrong (see Grabeach's post, and the plaque itself).
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Thu 18 May, 2017 1:35 pm

tom_brennan wrote:Went into the valley via Ahearn Lookout and Slott Way to Russells Needle, exiting via Rocky Waterholes Creek. Rachel has a trip report at http://grindlay.org/2017/05/russells-needle/

Excellent report.

Nice to know the creek at GR625986 is navigable. The creek to the west (GR620986) is known as Camelot Ck. There is an old fire trail that runs down Camelot Ck. I'm not sure how far it goes as I have only been part the way down it, so I can't confirm that it could also be used as an exit route. This creek is another spot that is on the list of places that I plan to make a return visit.

BTW - I was out at Ahearn Lookout on the 7th.

We had a brief discussion about who Ahearn was, so I remembered this thread and did a bit more digging.

Re Ahearn Lookout, and Leon Ahearn - from the following publication: http://pawansw.org/resources/agm2010_Minutes.pdf
Rangers Chris Perry and Leon Ahearn – both died in 1983 (or about – I can check the dates) of Leukaemia. While I was visiting the two bed-ridden rangers shortly before they died, nurses at St Vincent's Hospital told me this particular Leukaemia was commonest amongst those working in agriculture who regularly used certain herbicides, which included some of those used by Rangers Perry and Ahearn. Both these rangers had worked together in the early 1980's weed-spraying from Yarrangobilly Caves and Talbingo/Blowering. I was working there as a Temporary Ranger at the time, before being relocated to Tibooburra. Anecdotal evidence suggests that staff were at times directed to use herbicide cocktails at higher concentrations than on the label, and that PPE was not always on hand or required to be used.


This correlates with Robert Sloss's guide, which says:
Historical Note: Ahearn was a ranger who was passionate about the preservation of the Nattai Wilderness, his ashes are buried at the lookout that bears his name with a plaque nearby.


Obviously the date in the first item above is wrong (see Grabeach's post, and the plaque itself).

Thank you for finding this information. So sad to hear the circumstances of Leon's passing. I can understand his passion for the area and I'm glad he is at rest there.

Michael.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby tom_brennan » Thu 18 May, 2017 9:52 pm

Does anyone know the name of the lookout at the end of the narrow knife-edge ridge in the map section below? This is about 3km S of Wattle Ridge, above the junction of Rocky Waterholes Creek and Iron Creek.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Thu 18 May, 2017 10:17 pm

Sloss calls it the Chasm Lookout.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby Hughmac » Sun 28 May, 2017 7:08 pm

tom_brennan wrote:Does anyone know the name of the lookout at the end of the narrow knife-edge ridge in the map section below? This is about 3km S of Wattle Ridge, above the junction of Rocky Waterholes Creek and Iron Creek.

Hi Tom. Am I right in assuming that the red line on your map is a GPS track? I gather if so that you walked up Rocky Waterholes before exiting up the stream shown? Puredingo and I were out there about twelve months ago looking for a way into Rocky Waterholes from up on the plateau but had no luck.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby puredingo » Mon 29 May, 2017 2:34 pm

G'day Hugh, looks like Tom and party entered/exited via the creek over the spur to the East from our creek. If this is correct then according to Michael we were on Camelot creek and the fire trail he speaks of is the one we walked out on.
Now if this is also correct Michael, then the fire trail doesn't particularly follow the creek at all, rather it terminates above on the flat land as this creek quickly turns into a series of serious waterfalls towards its meeting with Iron Ck.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Mon 29 May, 2017 5:51 pm

puredingo wrote:Now if this is also correct Michael, then the fire trail doesn't particularly follow the creek at all, rather it terminates above on the flat land as this creek quickly turns into a series of serious waterfalls towards its meeting with Iron Ck.

We never made it that far down the old fire trail on Camelot Ck. Our plan was to find a way across to the Rocky Waterholes Ck (RWC) Lookout track from the Chasm Track. We spotted the old fire trail that went down into Camelot Ck and followed it for a bit before off-tracking over to the RWC track. Going by the topo map I'm not surprised that the lower section becomes a series of waterfalls.

Now I know that the lower section is waterfalls I don't have to go explore it for myself. :D

Below is a 2009 aerial view. I've tagged the relative trails, hope this can be of some help.

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that in the 3rd edition of the Robert Sloss guide to this area the track names have been changed. They are now not named as shown below.

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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby Grabeach » Tue 30 May, 2017 8:01 am

Looking closely at the SIX air photos, the Camelot Ck track seems to end about 600m downstream from where it hits the creek. Been meaning to get the mountain bike (knee better cycling than walking) into that area. The Chasm L/O track and the ridges further to the east and the cross valley connections between them have intrigued me for years. Just need to figure out how to stop my GPS reverting to deg-min-decimal min every time I take a reading!
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 30 May, 2017 9:38 am

michael_p wrote:Below is a 2009 aerial view. I've tagged the relative trails, hope this can be of some help.


I don't have it with me, but in his latest guide, Sloss has your Rocky Waterholes Creek LO Track marked as the Chasm Lookout. Your Chasm Lookout Track is unnamed in his guide. The next track to the east, which you haven't marked, he has as the Dome Track (I think).

That's from the 3rd edition, which is apparently different from the 2nd edition! Will try to post a pic tonight.

Hughmac wrote:Hi Tom. Am I right in assuming that the red line on your map is a GPS track?

Yes, we walked up Rocky Waterholes from the Nattai, through the Chasm and out the side creek. There are a couple of other exits not far upstream according to Sloss. We didn't get that far since we had always planned to try that side creek first.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby michael_p » Tue 30 May, 2017 1:13 pm

tom_brennan wrote:
michael_p wrote:Below is a 2009 aerial view. I've tagged the relative trails, hope this can be of some help.


I don't have it with me, but in his latest guide, Sloss has your Rocky Waterholes Creek LO Track marked as the Chasm Lookout. Your Chasm Lookout Track is unnamed in his guide. The next track to the east, which you haven't marked, he has as the Dome Track (I think).

That's from the 3rd edition, which is apparently different from the 2nd edition! Will try to post a pic tonight.

:shock: OK, I wasn't aware that the names had been changed in the 3rd edition of the Sloss guide. I'll edit my earlier post to reflect this. Thanks for that.

tom_brennan wrote:the Dome Track (I think).

So that is where the Dome Track is.

Grabeach wrote:Looking closely at the SIX air photos

Can I suggest you consider using Google Earth as it has the capability to show historical aerial photos. I have found this functionality very useful for spotting old trails.

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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby Hughmac » Tue 30 May, 2017 8:05 pm

G'day Aaron, hope your well. We were closer than we thought, just following the wrong stream line!
Hi Michael. It is possible to get across Camelot Ck to the lookout track, but it is a scrub bash with a little scrambling. Camelot Ck itself is beautiful. I recall Aaron christened it 'Spoon Drain Ck' due to the shape of parts of it's bed.
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Re: A Day in the Nattai Valley.

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 30 May, 2017 9:25 pm

See below for the map from Sloss' 3rd edition. The names seem pretty confusing to me. You have "The Chasm Trail" leading to "Chasm Lookout" and "The Chasm Lookdown". But then you have the "Chasm Track" joining up with "The Dome Track", leading into Rocky Waterholes Creek. And finally, the lookout that I would consider the Chasm Lookout, doesn't even get a name!

Of course there's no guarantee he has all the names right. And apparently the names may have been different in the 2nd edition.

michael_p wrote:Can I suggest you consider using Google Earth as it has the capability to show historical aerial photos. I have found this functionality very useful for spotting old trails.

The problem with Google Earth is that the most recent imagery is not necessarily the best quality. For example, the 2009 imagery is best for the Nattai, and is comparable in quality to that from SIXMaps. But the more recent imagery in Google Earth is much poorer. At least with SixMaps, the imagery is usually pretty high quality.
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